In an emergency, or you need help, the Police will ensure the immediate safety of children. If a child is considered to be at risk, attending Police will liaise directly with the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Service, who will decide what action to take. If you are a woman who is in an abusive relationship, you can contact the Women’s Refuge. You do not have to leave home and go to a refuge to receive support for yourself and your children, though it might be appropriate in serious cases.
Who can help you?
Information and practical assistance is available from the workers on the end of the telephone. If you are not coping and you feel you can not look after your children as well as you should, talk to someone, anyone, and ask for help. It can be a friend, relative, neighbour – preferably someone you trust.
Call one of the numbers listed here and discuss your problems with someone who will listen. If you need help with the children, consider getting someone in from an organisation such as Barnardos, which offers home help for a small fee. The investment might be well worth it for the relief it can bring. Don’t let your situation get to the point where you will hit or otherwise abuse your children – it is not their fault. Contact list Many local personal help services are listed in the front of your telephone book.
Others are listed under Community Services or Welfare Organisations in the Yellow Pages. Several agencies have national freephone telephone numbers so parents can receive free advice. New Zealanders are well served by an array of people and agencies willing to help those in need. These groups can usually be found in the Personal Help Services section at the front of your phone book, through doctors and other health professionals, church social services, word-of-mouth social contacts, and agencies such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau. The following details some of the more prominent ones.
New Zealand has refuges throughout the country providing safe houses for thousands of women and their children annually. Most refuges can be found listed in the phonebook, or may be contacted through the Police or a citizens advice bureau. Nearly all have a crisis phone line.
Many refuges exist solely for Maori women; others are for Pacific Island or Asian women. Refuges provide a warm and safe place for women and children in need so they can start their lives over again. Some women stay for a night, others for several months while they decide what to do. They also provide a listening ear and advice if you need to talk to someone, and can help if you wish to stay in your home or your relationship.
Every refuge provides 24-hours-a-day support, information and safe accommodation. Most have a 24-hour telephone counselling service. Refuges also recognise that abuse occurs in lesbian relationships, and has appropriate counselling and support services. Once you are safe in a refuge, the next most important step is counselling. It is critical for all members of the family – both partners and the children. If you have an abusive partner, you need counselling:
- to have a safe place to talk through your problems and make decisions;
- to learn to feel good about yourself;
- to learn how not to lean on your partner for support t they’re not giving to you anyway;
- to learn how to command respect so that neither your partner nor anyone else feels they will get away with mistreating you.
Women’s refuges put women in touch with lawyers, doctors, counsellors and other appropriate community groups working in family violence. For women dealing with the Police and courts, support and advocacy is offered. Help with finding alternative housing is provided for women and children unable to return to their home.
Citizens Advice Bureau
The Association of Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent community organisation whose member bureau and specialist services around New Zealand provide information, advice, advocacy and support to individuals. They can call on an extensive database of information and local support. Services are free, impartial and confidential. Bureau have a comprehensive and regularly updated referral database and information resources to help volunteers provide the best advice. The bureau;
- give advice about your rights;
- give referrals and contacts for local help agencies;
- provide information and help in getting protection orders;
- provide information about emergency accommodation;
- give confidential support to talk things over and look at various options;
- find free legal advice, or refer to a local lawyer;
- provide other information, such as welfare benefits, housing, budgeting.
Relationship Services works with people to change their relationship for the better through counselling. It works on the premise that only you can make the necessary changes and only if you have a will to make the change. Relationship Services will:
- Make the safety of you and your children the priority. Your counsellor knows about support services and legal help for you.
- See you alone so you can work out what you want to do.
- Help you to understand how violence is used to maintain power and control.
- Respect your feelings and help you build up your self-confidence.
- Help you separate from your partner, if that’s what you want. You decide whether you will do this in separate or joint counselling sessions.
- Help you to deal with the hassles and pain of separation and talk about how that is affecting your children.
- Help you and your partner work at reconciliation if that’s what you decide.